The view from Seacrest Park in West Seattle.

Image: Jane Sherman

Welcome to your new hometown, a city currently re-examining every trope of what it means to live in Seattle.

Some clunky old stereotypes have piled up over the years—how we dress, how we caffeinate, how we seem friendly enough, but will never make good on those vague offers to hang out sometime. That last one’s a biggie: Whether a function of our Scandinavian roots or just a collective sense of civic awkwardness, the phenomenon’s known as the “Seattle Freeze.” Being subjected to jokes about it is practically a newcomer rite of passage.

In a city with 20 percent more residents than it had in 2010, however, that notion is one of many long-standing bromides that no longer holds. Ditto for all those cliches about everyone wearing flannel (stereotypes about how seriously we take coffee, however, are totally legit).

The reason for all this change is, well, you. And the 1,000-plus other new residents who arrive each week, taking in our water-laced vistas and stunning sunsets with fresh eyes. Sure, many folks come for a job, these days especially a job at Amazon or another tech company. But rarely, if ever, do newly minted Seattle residents feel ambivalent about moving here.

Maybe you were lured by the promise of after-work hikes. Or a restaurant scene built on incredible local ingredients, and neighborhoods that balance walkability with glimpses of lakes and mountains. Should you need more reasons to love Seattle, this guide is full of nuts-and-bolts recommendations (where to shop and eat, how to find a pediatrician) and cultural markers to help orient you, like great local albums and a guide to pronouncing places like “Puyallup.”

After all, cities do evolve: In our current boom times, it’s unreal to think there was an era where an economic free fall expunged residents in such droves that in 1971 two jokester real estate agents famously erected a billboard that exhorted “Will the last person leaving Seattle—Turn out the lights.” In some ways, this recent decade of growth confirms a civic transformation long in the making, from a town that mostly minded its own business up in the country’s northwest corner to a teeming city that’s home to highest-profile companies, edgy artists, and all walks in between. But Seattle, at its core, remains as it ever was—a place where people pursue their passions against a pretty stunning backdrop.

Welcome to your new town. May you love it as much as we do.

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